In an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, TIP CEO & President Joshua S. Block detailed how support from Iran gave Houthi rebels the resources to wage war in Yemen and how the humanitarian crisis affecting the Yemeni people could be alleviated by cutting off the Houthis from their Iranian masters.
“It is clear that the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM), which provides clearance for commercial shipping to Houthi-controlled territory, has failed to stop the flow of illicit arms to the rebels,” Block observed, adding that “Since the war broke out and the Houthis unseated the legitimate government of Yemen, the group has received training, expertise and weapons from Iran and Hezbollah.”
The battle for control over the strategic port of Hodeidah – the access and distribution point for more than 70 per cent of aid reaching the war-torn country – intensified in late July, following an attack on two Saudi oil tankers off the west coast that led Saudi Arabia to suspend its oil shipments through the Bab Al-Mandeb strait.
Since taking control of the port city in October 2014, “the insurgency group has been found time and again to mismanage vital humanitarian deliveries in order to serve their selfish political ends,” Block said. He noted that the Iranian-backed rebels have blocked aid deliveries, threatened volunteers and blocked the transfer of wounded civilians in what Block called “a cynical infringement of basic humanitarian law.”
“It is therefore imperative for the UN to take this lifeline out of Houthi control.” A U.N.-led peace initiative, however, appears to be on the brink of collapse, after Houthi rebels used the negotiation period to further entrench their forces in Hodeidah. “Houthi activity in the city has intensified, and the group has made it clear that there are no terms under which they will hand over the city to an internationally- supervised operation,” Block explained.
According to him, for the Saudi-led coalition of Arab States to retake Hodeidah “is central to forcing them back into the mountains and away from the Red Sea. This development would not only strengthen the stability of the region, it would also enhance the security of Western countries concerned with Iran’s aggressive expansionism.”
Block praised the decision by the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran and limit the cash flow to Tehran’s proxies across the Middle East, including to the Houthi rebels. “Yemen is living with the consequences,” of Iran’s imperialist ambitions “every day” he concluded.
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